Type to search

Nisio Isin – The Genius Behind The Monogatari Series

Anime Corner Author


On August 16, 2020, it was announced that a new volume for the “Monogatari” novel franchise will be released on October 28. 2020. If you are a casual anime fan, you must have seen or heard about the popular anime. If you’ve watched it and are a really big fan of the franchise, you must be wondering about the man behind it. With his unique writing style and storytelling, you can’t help but wonder, who is the man behind the Monogatari Series? Who is Nisio Isin?

Born in 1981, Nisio Isin, or Nishio Ishin, stylized NisioisiN [to emphasize the palindrome], is the pen name of the Japanese novelist behind the Monogatari Series. NisioisiN attended and left Ritsumeikan University. It’s a private university in Kyoto, Japan, and he left without graduating. He debuted in 2002 as a novelist with the novel “The Beheading Cycle” or “Kubikiri Saikuru“. It earned him the 23rd Mephisto Prize at the age of 20. He also worked on Faust, a literary magazine by Kodansha. It wasn’t published regularly, but it contained other works of young authors who were also influenced by light novels and otaku culture. Nisio’s works are characterized by a sense of literature that is amid the so-called “Shindenki”. It’s a mystery-light novel genre in which characters attempt to solve a mystery in a situation that would be impossible in reality. It also features many quotes from older anime and manga.

He also worked with the Kodansha box magazine, Pandora. He is currently working with Mephisto Magazine (also from Kodansha). Mephisto Magazine is a Japanese magazine that mainly focuses on ‘Mystery Fiction.’ That’s where the first three stories of Nisio Isin’s Monogatari series were published back in 2005-2006.

Some covers of his novel and magazines


In February of 2008, his novels “Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases” based on the popular “Death Note” manga was released in English by Viz Media. On December 16. 2011, his “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Over Heaven” light novel released as part of the special JoJo 25th anniversary project VS JOJO.. Nisio Isin also published a twelve-volume series over twelve months for the Kodansha Box line. Ryūsui Seiryōin, a Japanese novelist who is active in mystery and other fields, matched his performance. That’s why the Kodansha Box website stated it was the first time in history that two authors managed a twelve-volume monthly novel series simultaneously from the same publisher.

The Cover of the Death Note and JoJo light novels by Nisio Isin
[The Cover of the Death Note and JoJo light novels by Nisio Isin]

[Nisio is also known for creating characters with unusual features. Some of them have extremely strange names which are a play on words, such as Nanananami Nanami, Shikigishi Kishiki, Kiss-shot Acerola-Orion Heart-under-blade, Backyard Bottomslash, Quarter Queen, Sagano Usagi. Also, Byōinzaka Kuroneko, which translates roughly as “Black Cat of Hospital Hill” and Shikizaki Kiki.]

Since Nisio Isin’s debut, his wordplay, tongue-in-cheek dialogue has been the main characteristic of his works. When asked in a conversation with Ryūsui Seiryōin in Fausto Vol. 3 2004. Summer page 177-178, he replied, “I think it’s certainly because I’m a Kansai person.”. He also said that he feels that “dialogue is the character,” which is why he focuses more on what they say than on how they look. Nisio also explained why he features a lot of women in his works. It’s because “it is easier for them to express their individuality.”. He explained that “women are much more adorned as characters (e.g. fashion) than men.”.

The English Translated Monogatari Novel (by Nisio Isin) Covers
That Feature The Heroines
The English Translated Monogatari Novel Covers
That Feature The Heroines

Novels or Light Novels?

As you may know, most of Nisio’s works are published by Kodansha Novels. Sometimes, they are classified as ‘Light Novels’ instead. In a conversation with Otokazu and Ubukata Tow in Quick Japan Vol.54 -Harkari/permanent light novel special edition said of Nisio. “I think he falls into the light novel category in a broad sense.”. However, The Nisio Isin Chronicle describes his work Zaregoto series as a light novel. In the issue of Nikkei Characters! Page 57 in January of 2005 introduces Nisio as a “new generation of writers who are breaking down the barriers between general literature and light novels.”.

Most of the young light novel authors like Nisio were influenced by the Otaku culture. Especially manga. Nisio’s greatest influence was from the likes of Shonen Jump and Shojo. He is also a passionate fan of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure“. In Nishio Ishin Chronicle Page 85, there was a conversation between him and Hirohiko Araki (the creator of the JoJo franchise). Nisio commented it was “a manga I would like all humanity to read.”. That is also the reason for a lot of the JoJo references in his works, especially in the Monogatari Series.

JoJo References in the Monogatari anime (by Nisio Isin)
JoJo References in the Monogatari anime

More Nisio Isin Anime

Speaking of anime, the Monogatari Series is not the only work of his that got adapted. His other works, such as Zaregoto, Katanagatari, Medaka Box, and Juni Taisen also got their adaptations. Still, the only work of his that got fully adapted was all the volumes of the Monogatari Series. On November 10. 2018, the final story for the Monogatari Series was released. The fans are now wondering, will SHAFT animate the entirety of the Monogatari novels? As mentioned earlier, the Monogatari novels are still not done. With the release of Ougimonogatari set for October 28 and the unannounced released date for Shinomonogatari parts 1 and 2, the series is most likely yet to expand. In an old tweet, someone said that the off-season series will likely get animated as well.

Monogatari Novels will not be complete without its characters. Characters illustrated by VOFAN. VOFAN is a Taiwanese artist. He is mostly known for his unique, border-less art style that uses a lot of bright colors and soft, natural lighting. He is the one that drew every Monogatari cover, including the English versions.

[The first cover for the Monogatari novels Japanese and English Versions]

He also illustrated the promotional artworks. The end cards for the TV series, as well as most of the character designs for the series, originate from VOFAN. Those not done by him were presumably created by anime series character designer Akio Watanabe.

[Sources: NisioisiN Wiki, NisioisiN Twitter, NisioisiN Website, Monogatari English Novels About The Author Page.
Thumbnail from: Nisioisin Exhibit Twitter Account
(All photos are not owned by us, they are owned by NisioisiN and VOFAN and their publishers)]

Karl Koyomi

Hello, my name is Karl and I write news articles for Anime Corner, I am a huge Monogatari fan and I watch any anime! Add me on MyAnimeList!

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments